About two weeks ago, I wrote about how Harry Giles is one of the biggest question marks in the 2017 NBA Draft. After recently undergoing his third knee surgery in three years, his chances of being considered for the top overall pick have dissipated.
The injury on his left knee was “minor,” as Giles is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out scar tissue in his left knee.
This puts into question his availability to start the season for the Blue Devils. Giles will likely be on a minutes restriction whenever he comes back, and that could be a consistent theme during his freshman season given his past injury issues.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome of today’s procedure,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a press release. “This is the right step for Harry at the moment as it will help him be 100 percent going forward. Harry has done a tremendous job in rehabilitation over the last year and I’m sure he’ll continue to do the same after this procedure.”
Giles previously tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in Uruguay during the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He spent two years trying to get back to form, and he looked dominant while helping the U19 FIBA USA Basketball Team win gold at the World Championship in Greece:
But he suffered his second torn ACL — this time in his right knee — in November 2015 during the first game of his high school season. This put him into rehab again, and the hope was to be ready to have a productive season at Duke and to be in the top overall pick conversation come June 2017.
This injury likely puts those hopes to a halt, as scouts may stay away from Giles in the top five no matter the circumstances given his past history and this stacked draft class. One scout told CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish he even had doubts after his second knee injury last year:
“It’s a huge concern — and I felt that way before this latest injury. I don’t think you can responsibly consider him for No. 1, and maybe not even the top five, now. There are too many other good players without the medical red flags.”
With the way the 2017 draft is shaping up, I find it hard to believe Giles finds himself drafted in the top eight. Elite (and healthy) talents such as Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith, Josh Jackson and Frank Ntilikina all have great upside, with options like Jayson Tatum, Jonathan Isaac and Lonzo Ball primed for productive freshman seasons as well:
“If you can get [Duke freshman] Jayson Tatum with no red flags or [Washington freshman] Markelle Fultz with no red flags, it’s just not worth it to risk things with Giles,” one scout said. “All things equal, I might prefer Giles. But things aren’t equal. And I’d hate to be the team to spend the top pick on somebody with these injuries in his past and then end up with a Greg Oden situation or a Joel Embiid situation.”
It’s just too risky for a team to take Giles at the top of this draft given his injury history. Nerlens Noel saw a similar fall after a midseason ACL injury, and he fell from top overall pick to sixth overall in 2013. We could see a similar case with Giles, with an even larger drop. I could see a team taking him at the end of the lottery in hopes that he can stay healthy and develop into the dominant frontcourt presence he’s supposed to be.
Giles’ overall upside is through the roof, and that should make him a lottery pick regardless. His talent, size and athleticism remind me of Chris Webber of the Sacramento Kings in his prime. We can only hope that Giles can overcome the injury bug and work his way to that ceiling.